“Neither side has done anything spectacular in the series so far, yet, New Zealand find themselves on the verge of losing this series. The batsmen failed in the first match and in the second match, it was the bowlers, who disappointed”
New Zealand dominated with the bat in the ODI series against Sri Lanka, scoring 300-plus in each of the three matches. However, they played against a relatively depleted, unsettled Sri Lankan bowling attack, against whom they could pile on the runs with a minimum of fuss. However, there were a couple of cracks in their bowling department, that leaked runs aplenty, especially when Thisara Perera took them to the cleaners in two out of those three matches. In the ongoing ODI series against India, there seems to be a collective failure from both the batsmen and the bowlers and in the two matches so far, India have outplayed their opponents in both the matches and deservedly have a 2-0 lead.
In the first ODI, the New Zealand batsmen put up a sorry show, which saw them crumble to just 157 all-out in just 38 overs. Regardless of the runs on the board, the bowlers’ job is to ensure that the Indians toil hard for every single run. But, India looked in very little trouble, which is a credit to their professionalism, also, showed New Zealand bowlers’ lack of intent to put India under pressure by cutting down the ones and twos, and looking to pick up wickets. The only way, they would have won the match, as if they had picked up all the 10 wickets, but they just about huffed and puffed their way to a couple of wickets.
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The second ODI at Bay Oval saw below par ground fielding, a couple of dropped catches and an underwhelming bowling performance from the Kiwi bowlers. They leaked 21 runs from the final over of the innings, after restricting them to just 29 runs in total between overs 41 to 45. Once you get to the final few overs, it is no longer about getting wickets. Everything comes down to how well you restrict the batsmen. Of course, if any wickets come your way, it is a bonus, but in limited-overs cricket, runs, especially in the final 10 overs are gold dust. With the way New Zealand started out the death overs, it looked as though India would just get somewhere around 300, but one poor over ruined everything. It affects the team psychologically more than anything, knowing things got out of hand right at the end of the innings.
To get an idea of how poorly New Zealand have bowled, they have managed just 6 wickets in two matches, while Kuldeep Yadav has alone managed 8 wickets. The New Zealand team had a chance to play a couple of Super Smash T20 games after the conclusion of the Sri Lanka series. But many, including skipper Kane Williamson, decided not to and as a result were a tad rusty. They were not match-fit, which clearly has shown in their approach and when coming against a team who conquered Australia in the ODI series not too long ago, you need as many games under your belt as possible before you come out to face them.
Playing in New Zealand has its challenges, especially for the bowlers. With the small boundaries, it becomes extremely difficult to prevent the balls from going over the fence. That is where the bowler has to think – perhaps he should consider a change of pace or changing his lines and lengths in such a manner that the batsmen hit it where the boundary is bigger. However, the New Zealand bowlers showed very little presence of mind and it is boggling that a team can be so unprepared at their own backyard, which has allowed the Indian team to register their first ODI win in 10 years.
The likes of Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, and Doug Bracewell certainly have the pace and temperament to exceed with the ball, but they will have to apply their presence of mind and bowl according to the situation. Williamson too has had a chance to witness what the Indians are capable of and it is his responsibility as captain to come down harsh on his players for two poor matches.
Neither side has done anything spectacular in the series so far, yet, New Zealand find themselves on the verge of losing this series. The batsmen failed in the first match and in the second match, it was the bowlers, who disappointed. The need all their departments firing in the third game if they want to stay alive in the series. With the World Cup around the corner, New Zealand will hope that they are not on the decline.